BOEING IS negotiating with Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing (HAMC) to restart production of the 234 Commercial Chinook in China.

According to local sources, Boeing has proposed establishing a full 234 production line in Harbin, northern China. The deal is understood to include providing plans for HAMC to build its own tooling and jigs.

HAMC is keen to further develop its helicopter-production capability by manufacturing the 234. Discussions with Boeing have been under way for about a year, and it is understood that an agreement could be reached by early 1996.

A major hurdle has already been cleared with the removal of the civil 234 helicopter from the US Government's munitions list and the transfer of approval responsibility between US departments, from state to commerce.

Before the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising, Boeing had concluded a deal to sell six CH-47 Chinooks to the Chinese military. The subsequent US arms embargo against China forced the cancellation of the deal.

The 234 version of the helicopter is certificated by the US Federal Aviation Administration for commercial use. The civil variant features twin Textron Lycoming AL 5512 turboshafts, instrument-flight-rules avionics, added redundancy, and a 44-seat passenger cabin.

The proposed HAMC-built 234 would be targeted at China's fast-growing onshore and offshore helicopter-support industry.

HAMC already has experience of licence-producing Western-designed helicopters. The company has built 50 Eurocopter AS.365 N1 helicopters for the Chinese military and other government agencies.


Source: Flight International